On January 8, I attended with other mentees and our mentors an Advocacy Leadership Training with Mass Mentoring in collaboration with PYD (Partners for Youth with Disabilities) in preparation for Youth Mentoring Day at the State House that was on January 8th. The night was educational, active and fun. We had a great night together and we also enjoyed delicious pizza! We were prepared to share our stories at the State House.
At Youth Mentoring Day at the State House, held on January 17th, we were a great group of advocates – mentors and mentees showed up despite the snow with Mass Mentoring Partnership and PYD to share how important mentoring is. It was powerful and exciting to listen to some awesome speakers. State Senator Linda Doreen Forty is a big supporter for mentoring and she spoke very passionately about the subject. Her speech captivated me and even moved some of us to tears! It was exciting and I loved being a part of this important event at the State House.
Thanks to all the representatives who spoke, who took the time to meet with us after and who supported us in our mission to increase awareness and increase funding for mentoring. Mentoring fosters positive life effects on youth. I know, I have had several great mentors who have helped me grow as a person and have always given me valuable insight in many different areas of my life. I am grateful for all my mentors for helping me through different stages of my life! I hope other youth with disabilities get the chance to experience the power of mentoring!
Being a 2017 PYD Fellow helped all of us grow as individuals. We learned about how to get involved in the community. For example, going to State House to advocate for our rights as individuals with disabilities. We had many opportunities to meet new people at different events such as the career
mentoring brunch and various other fun events. We also learned how to better manage stress at a stress management/yoga workshop.
We spent time discussing how to work as a group and listen to each other. The meetings helped guide us through the steps involved in planning an event. They improved our confidence and leadership skills to find our voices and speak up more and express our ideas. It didn’t matter if they were right or wrong we felt listened to. We really enjoyed planning events and we got to know our peers better through the group. The three of us actually all knew each other from previous events/schools, but working and being together as PYD fellows really fostered special friendships.
The year started with Porchfest held each year all around Somerville. PYD’s Deep Chinappa and his band, Deep C Divers, played at Tatiana’s house. Many PYD participants came to hear him play and we spent hours dancing, laughing and enjoying ourselves. The food was wonderful too. Regina also joined
us. We combined Porch Fest with a photo shoot with Disability Images. It was great fun to be models for a day.
As PYD fellows our year end event was around the Honk Parade held each year in Davis Square. The parade included activist street bands from the area. The bands performing had a lot of brass, percussion, and acoustic instruments. These bands don’t just play for the people; they play among the people and invited everyone to join the fun. They are active, activist, and deeply engaged in their communities promoting inclusion. They can be outrageous and do community-building activities.
By organizing this event we were able to bring together mentors and mentees. We met at Tatiana’s house for a wonderful lunch. We were worried about the rain, but while enjoying lunch the rain stopped, and we were all able to head out to the Parade. We saw dancers, stilts, bands and bicycles. It was a very diverse crowd. After we all returned to Tatiana’s from the parade we ate cake and ice cream. It was a wonderful day for all who joined us.
It was a very fulfilling and fun experience to be a PYD fellow.
Thank you PYD for the opportunity!
Your 2017 PYD Fellows
We are delighted to honor #illumentor Joey Buizon (center in the photo) as the inaugural recipient of the “Partnership Mentor of the Year” award for his tremendous collaboration on Project LENS (Linking Expertise and Networking for Success). For the past three years PYD has collaborated with Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to run LENS. The goal of LENS is to help individuals with visual impairments find employment through pairing them with a caring adult mentor who have a similar disability and are working in their intended career field. Mentors will provide job counseling, resources, and professional experience to their mentees.
Joey first connected with PYD a number of years ago to volunteer as a caring adult mentor to a young adult who was blind. Joey has dedicated his personal and professional life to creating more employment opportunities for youth with disabilities.
Professionally, Joe Buizon is the Supervisor of Employment Services at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind where he oversees a wide range of work programs from job fairs and internships to mentoring and other opportunities to engage with employer partners. He has been with the agency for 10 plus years and has worked as rehabilitation teacher, a social worker and an Employment service specialists. Joe has a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
When reflecting on his personal and professional journey, Joey shared, “I met some of the greatest people in my life when I was going blind. ” He further described, “What we do changes peoples’ lives.”
We at PYD are so grateful for his wonderful dedication to help create more mentoring opportunities for young people with blindness or vision loss through LENS. We deeply appreciate his commitment to illuminating and nurturing the power and potential of young people with disabilities through mentoring. With Joey’s strong collaboration and partnership, LENS is well poised to reach new heights and illuminate more futures.
Please RSVP to Mentor Appreciation Night here!
On March 12th, PYD began its #IAMPYD campaign by bringing our traveling canvass to Access To Theatre, PYD’s theater arts program for teens and young adults. Participants added their art to the canvas, expressing why they are involved and what they like most about PYD. The canvas is currently filled with a rocket ship, flowers, and other colorful drawings, including proud declarations of personal identities and why PYD is important to them.
Thanks to Mary Grace, Jackie, Juan, and Olivia of the Boston University PRLab, three peer leaders shared their experiences and how PYD has impacted their lives. The following are excerpts and photos from the interviews and the young artists’ process.
“I like being a peer leader for Access To Theatre and Making Healthy Connections because I enjoy expressing my individuality through theater and having fun! I love it because it is a space where I don’t get judged.” – Lizzie Gray
“My favorite thing about being a peer leader is being with my PYD family and those that I love the most. I also like helping others” – Josh Jones
“Partners for Youth with Disabilities has helped me be a better human being. It helps me be more independent as a man and it teaches me about social skills, and how to be ready for the world. In my personal life, it helps me be prepared for anything, because it unlocks that [treasure box] of opportunities and it helps me express who I am as an individual. It helps me learn more about myself and learn new things about different people. Everyone has a story and you never what they are going through unless you sit with them and learn their story. PYD has helped me with that. I’ve been involved for nine years now. I love PYD and thank them for doing that. If PYD didn’t exist I wouldn’t have learned to be as sharp, strong, independent, and intelligent, and I woudn’t have learned all these acting and theater skills. It is so cool to express being silly, but also being artistic and consistent at the same time. Some words that describe me are fearless, risk taker, ambitious, strive for greatest, loving, loyal, dedicated to family, dedicated to my peers, dedicated to being myself, honest, caring. Anything you need I’m always there for you. That’s what describes me.” – DJ Robinson
Join us at the Party for PYD on May 18th to hear DJ perform an original rap!
We’d like to thank Blick art for the kind donation of the canvas.
During the Peer Leader training for the Youth Leadership Forum, Kristin Humphrey introduced our group what a “Zine” is. They are described as being self-published works of art that can focus on any topic of interest, whether it’s sports, LGBTQ rights, cartoons, or any other topic in-between. She asked our group of peer leaders to create our very own zines with a whole table of supplies at our disposal: scissors, glue sticks, colored pencils, paper, magazines, etc., to help us self-express.
After exploring the magazines, I carefully picked out many images of what I wanted my zine to be. This was the end result: